Bringing Dreams to the Screens: A Conversation with Ron Clements and John Musker

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Bringing Dreams to the Screens: A Conversation with Ron Clements and John Musker


Wednesday Apr 03 07:00 PM


Doris Duke Theatre


About the Lecture:

Presented in collaboration with Kapi‘olani Community College and the New Media Arts Lecture 2019 Series, join us for a talk story with the legends who brought you Moana, The Princess and the Frog, Treasure Planet, Hercules, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and The Great Mouse Detective. Ron Clements and John Musker share lessons learned from their forty years of making animated features and crafting stories for all ages.

: Free with RSVP via the link above.

Ron Clements is a renowned storyteller and filmmaker at Walt Disney Animation Studios. With his longtime collaborator, John Musker, Clements has written and directed iconic feature films that have become part of Disney’s legacy, including beloved classics like The Little Mermaid in 1989 and Aladdin in 1992, as well as Disney’s 2009 return to hand-drawn animation, The Princess and the Frog. Clements teamed up with Musker again, this time venturing to ancient Oceania for an epic adventure about an aspiring wayfinder, on the Academy Award®-nominated Moana. Born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa, Clements traces his interest in animation to his first viewing of Pinocchio at age 9. As a teenager, he began making super-8 animated films, including Shades of Sherlock Holmes, a 15-minute featurette he animated single-handedly. Shades won critical acclaim and led to a part-time job as an artist at a television station, where he animated commercials for the local market. After graduating from high school, Clements came to California to try his luck at animation. Because there were no openings at Disney, he worked for several months at Hanna-Barbera while studying life drawing in the evening at Art Center. With persistence and determination, Clements was finally accepted into Disney’s Talent Development Program, a training ground for young animators. After successfully completing the training program, Clements served a two-year apprenticeship under Disney legend Frank Thomas. He quickly progressed through the ranks from in-betweener to assistant to animator-storyman. His credits include Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Too, The Rescuers, Pete’s Dragon, The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron. Clements made his writing-directing debut with Musker on the 1986 feature The Great Mouse Detective. Their credits also include 1997’s epic comedy Hercules and the intergalactic adventure Treasure Planet in 2002.

John Musker is a 40-year veteran of the Walt Disney Animation Studio where he was an animator, storyboard artist, writer, director, and producer. John grew up in Chicago, Illinois as part of a large Irish Catholic family. He followed up his English Literature studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, with two years at CalArts as part of the new Character Animation Program in the mid-seventies, where he learned not only from Disney and Chouinard veterans like Elmer Plummer, Bill Moore, and Ken O’Connor, but also his fellow classmates there, many who have gone on to direct distinguished films: folks like Brad Bird, Henry Selick, John Lasseter, Tim Burton, and Chris Buck. At Disney he was mentored by Eric Larson, the veteran animator and one of Disney’s fabled Nine Old Men, who brought Figaro the cat to life in Pinocchio, among many other characters in his distinguished career. John became an animator on The Fox and the Hound (1981), and later joined Ron Clements to direct The Great Mouse Detective (1986) alongside Disney veterans Burny Mattinson and Dave Michener. Ron and John paired up to write and direct The Little Mermaid (1989) which John co- produced with Howard Ashman. Ron and John also wrote and directed a number of subsequent animated features including Aladdin (1992) Hercules (1997) Treasure Planet ( 2002) and The Princess and the Frog ( 2009.) John’s most recent project was Moana ( 2016) which he once again directed with Ron Clements, along with co-directors Don Hall and Chris Williams. John retired from Disney Feature Animation in the spring of 2018, and is currently animating by hand his own short film, as well as chasing around his two-year-old granddaughter, Lucy. John resides in La Cañada, California, with his wife Gale, a former researcher at Disney, not far from his three grown children Patrick, Jackson, and Julia. Clements and his wife Tami live in the San Fernando Valley.

Presented in collaboration with Kapi‘olani Community College and the New Media Arts Lecture 2019.

Supported by Hawaiian Airlines, New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel, and the Wallis Foundation.

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